On the Initiative of Constitutional Changes
September 17, 2015
Armenian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, not excluding that the existing constitution contains provisions which require certain amendments, expresses its deep concern regarding the process of revision of the constitution initiated by the incumbent government. We consider that the initiative of constitutional revision and the referendum called in this regard are untimely and do not derive from the interests of the state and the society, instead serve the interest of the existing political leadership.
Revision of the constitutional is being held in a time when:
- There is no constitutional crisis and the obstacle to urgent reform in the country is not the existing main law , but the absence of political will to ensure constitutional order and democratic development of the country;
- There is no public demand for such changes, which will be reflected in low turnout and consequently high risks of large-scale fraud;
- There is no broad political consensus around this initiative, which is an essential precondition for constitutional referendum in civilized international practice. Serious and well-founded reservations of civil and political structures regarding this initiative limit the opportunity of wide, open and constructive discussion and improvement of this endeavor;
- Based on the above said, at the same time taking into account the existing gaps in the relevant legislation and vicious practice of national elections in the country, it is hard to expect public confidence in the voting results. In particular, despite the amendments to the Law on Referendum of June 10 of the current year, the regulations regarding information campaigns covering different positions remain unclear;
- Finally, the absence of clear and adequate strategy of the incumbent government concerning most serious internal and external challenges that Armenia is currently facing, such as the establishment of the rule of law, eradication of corruption and ineffective governance, adequate responses to geopolitical shocks, etc., should not be disguised under the illusion of constitutional amendments, which is perceived merely as pursuit of political ambitions.
We are convinced that constitutional reform should be clearly separated from the current political ambiance, which is impossible in the context of present development.
Therefore, we urge the RA authorities to postpone the referendum on constitutional changes until after the forthcoming national elections, within a reasonable timeframe.
Herein we also call all political forces to agree to engage in further discussions on the constitutional amendments in the future, including presenting their own positions on this issue in their pre-election party platforms.
Also, as a guarantee/precondition to public trust we demand the RA authorities to ensure free and fair administration of the upcoming elections.
EaP CSF Armenian National Platform
September 17, 2015
 The Platform combines about 200 civil society organizations of Armenia.
On 23-25 September the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) will gather in Tbilisi, Georgia over 60 representatives of civil society, EaP governments and EU institutions to discuss the progress and share experience in implementing Association Agreements (AAs) and creating Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). The bilateral agreements between EU and three Eastern Partners (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) were signed in June 2014 with a long-term perspective of closer political association and economic integration.
Successful implementation of the AAs/DCFTAs in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine has been identified as akey success factor of the Eastern Partnership initiative. A great number of the EaP CSF activities focus on different aspects of monitoring the implementation of these agreements.
The EU-funded ‘Civil Society. Dialogue for Progress’ project has released a mapping study on Civil Society Organisations in Ukraine, assessing the environment in which CSOs function and operate, and their capacities and needs with regard to influencing public policy-making and monitoring the implementation of policies.
The report was prepared on the basis of sociological surveys (408 interviews with CSO representatives) and focus group discussions (total of 255 participants) carried out in all regions of Ukraine from February to mid-April 2014, a timeframe that coincided with an unprecedented burst of civic activism and socio-political transformation in Ukraine in the wake of the “Euromaidan”.
The research concludes that during the 20 years Ukraine’s independence, the dialogue between policy-makers and stakeholders regarding the preparation of policy decisions has not followed the normal practice of cooperation between State and society, and that neither CSO representatives nor policy-makers paid enough attention to this issue. (EU Neighbourhood Info)
On 21-22 September, members of parliaments from five Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries will take part in a seminar to discuss the role of national parliaments in implementing the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights. The seminar is organised as part of the EU-Council of Europe (CoE) cooperation framework for the EaP.
Parliamentarians from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as from other Council of Europe member states will discuss with independent experts and specialists in this field the compatibility of draft laws with the European Convention on Human Rights and the role of parliaments in the effective execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.